Har­ness­ing sim­plic­ity and seren­ity

China Daily (USA) - - SANYA SPECIAL - By ZHAO SHIJUN zhaoshi­jun@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Zhongliao, a vil­lage near Sanya, is now of­fer­ing a new op­tion for tourists to visit this renowned sea­side resort in South China’s Hainan prov­ince, as the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture has de­clared it to be one of “China’s most beau­ti­ful vil­lages.”

The ti­tle also means a new op­por­tu­nity for lo­cal vil­lagers — mostly Li eth­nic peo­ple — to make money.

The hope for change was al­ready there when the city gov­ern­ment of Sanya be­gan to pro­mote the vil­lage as a rus­tic tourist des­ti­na­tion and helped it ap­ply for a po­si­tion on the min­istry’s ap­praisal list last year.

A project to ren­o­vate the vil­lage was launched in Oc­to­ber 2015, aim­ing to build ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties for re­ceiv­ing tourists.

The project — in­clud­ing the con­struc­tion of a trail around the vil­lage lake, link­ing the vil­lage to nearby high­ways, and re­zon­ing or­chards and farms — was com­pleted in early Fe­bru­ary 2016, just days be­fore the Spring Fes­ti­val.

The re­shaped vil­lage was open to tourists dur­ing the Spring Fes­ti­val, and vis­i­tors were wel­comed by the lake and ponds brim­ming with blos­som­ing lo­tuses, rose gar­dens and var­i­ous or­chards, lo­cal fruits and food, as well as the char­ac­ter­is­tic hos­pi­tal­ity of the Li eth­nic peo­ple.

The in­creas­ing num­ber of tourists has brought grow­ing in­come to the lo­cals.

A num­ber of cater­ing fa­cil­i­ties, inns, restau­rants and cafes have sprung up in the vil­lage.

There are also some ven­dors’ stalls for sell­ing lo­cal pro­duce at rea­son­able prices. Eggs, co­conuts and sweet pota­toes are pop­u­lar among tourists be­cause they are or­ganic and pol­lu­tion-free.

Li Yay­ing, owner of a lo­cal restau­rant, said her fam­ily used to live on plant­ing veg­eta­bles and rais­ing pigs and could barely make ends meet, de­spite the hard work of the whole fam­ily.

But she said her newly opened restau­rant is ex­pected to bring about a fun­da­men­tal change.

“Dur­ing the Sanyue­san Fes­ti­val (a Li eth­nic hol­i­day cel­e­brated on April 9 this year), I earned more than 2,000 yuan ($300) a day,” Li said, adding that the net profit of her busi­ness to­taled 20,000 yuan since it opened in Fe­bru­ary.

Fu Chunyu, owner of the In­Spring cafe, said he never ex­pected he could make some Tourists

We hope to build our vil­lage into a top ru­ral tourism site in Sanya, where lo­cals can have a bet­ter life and vis­i­tors can en­joy an au­then­tic rus­tic ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Lin Zeliang, The vil­lage’s land

Party chief of Zhongliao vil­lage has been rezoned into crop, veg­etable and flower farms and or­chards to meet the var­ied demands from tourists.

money just stay­ing at home. He now earns more than 100 yuan a day on av­er­age.

Chen Huizhu is a house­wife in Zhongliao vil­lage. Now she vends co­conuts from her own farm.

“I’m glad to do some busi­ness here while tak­ing care of my kids,” she said.

Through word-of-mouth, the re­gion’s or­ganic prod­ucts’ rep­u­ta­tion spread to whole­salers in Sanya and be­yond. They are com­ing to the vil­lage to talk about co­op­er­a­tion.

For the past year, vil­lage lead­ers have toiled over plan­ning a rea­son­able path of de­vel­op­ment for Zhongliao.

They ad­mit­ted that they are faced with many choices and temp­ta­tions, but they fi­nally de­cided to take a bal­anced approach, high­light­ing growth while pro­tect­ing the in­tegrity of the vil­lage.

Zhongliao is about 18 kilo­me­ters from the city cen­ter of Sanya and close to sev­eral ma­jor high­ways to the city. The ease of ac­cess, ex­cel­lent en­vi­ron­ment and beau­ti­ful land­scapes have made the vil­lage es­pe­cially at­trac­tive to real es­tate de­vel­op­ers in re­cent years.

Ac­cord­ing to the Party chief of the vil­lage, Lin Zeliang, real es­tate bosses be­gan to con­tact lo­cal of­fi­cials in 2009, of­fer­ing to buy or rent land for de­vel­op­ing projects that in­volve multi-mil­lion-dol­lar in­vest­ments, promis­ing to pro­vide bet­ter hous­ing and cre­ate more jobs for the vil­lagers.

How­ever, the vil­lage of­fi­cials, as well as the vil­lagers them­selves, re­jected such pro­pos­als.

“Sell­ing out the land means easy money for all,” Lin said, “But we will lose control of the vil­lage in the end — the en­vi­ron­ment and later the peo­ple’s liveli­hood will be at risk.”

Nu­mer­ous dis­cus­sions among the vil­lagers and the study of other ru­ral de­vel­op­ment cases in the rest of the coun­try lead to a con­sen­sus: tourism de­vel­op­ment will be the best approach to en­sure sus­tain­able growth of the vil­lage.

“We hope to build our vil­lage into a top ru­ral tourism site in Sanya, where lo­cals can have a bet­ter life and vis­i­tors can en­joy an au­then­tic rus­tic ex­pe­ri­ence with in­tact coun­try­side land­scapes and healthy food,” Lin said. Hoss Vetry,

MENG MINGZHU / FOR CHINA DAILY

par­tic­i­pate in a lo­cal sports event in Zhongliao vil­lage of Sanya.

A lot of changes have been tak­ing place in Sanya: the Hong­sha Tun­nel is open; the high­way from Lin­wang to Sanya has been ren­o­vated. What’s more im­por­tant is that the Sanya River has been bet­ter man­aged than be­fore. Sanya’s eco­log­i­cal re­cov­ery cam­paign has made the city a bet­ter place to live. Jimmy Sung, gen­eral­man­ager Hai­tangBayRe­sort

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